Durham has officially entered Phase 3 of the Province of Ontario’s coronavirus pandemic reopening plan, which means several businesses that have been closed for months are now able to resume operations.
When it comes to municipal services, however, each city or town is at their own discretion in terms of what will open and when.
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” said Shaun Collier, Ajax mayor.
Collier said throughout the pandemic, Ajax has taken a more cautious approach than some of its neighbours and that’s not about to change.
He said it takes time to get things back online and he’s concerned the province is moving too quickly.
“The last thing I want to do is undo all the hard work that we’ve done and have to start over again at day one,” said Collier.
Friday the town did reopen its playgrounds — the caution tape was removed and new signage has been posted.
“There’s no way that we can completely wipe down 100 sets of playground equipment twice a day, we just don’t have the staff. We’re just posting those as ‘use at your own risk’ because there is no way for us to be properly cleaning those twice a day,” said Collier.
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“It’s been a daily change for us,” said Ajax Environmental Services Manager Tim Field.
Field, who has been in charge of keeping the community looking good for the last six years, says it’s been more challenging the past few months.
“We have re-deployed staff from other departments from across the town, people from planning and development and our rec centres have come to help us maintain the turf and the grass in the park collecting litter. Jobs they’ve never done before, operating equipment that’s $160,000,” said Field.
Ajax residents will have to wait for the town’s three community centres to reopen. Mayor Collier says he doesn’t expect that to take place until after Labour Day.
“There’s no ice in any of our arenas, that takes time to put that in place and it doesn’t make sense to open an arena or open an indoor pool for two people,” said Collier.
Collier says he also has concerns about outdoor gatherings being increased to 100 and Durham Regional Chair, John Henry is encouraging residents to continue wearing masks and maintain a safe distance from others.
“We don’t want to see what’s happening in Florida, California, Texas, Australia,” said Henry.
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While Ajax is holding back, Oshawa will be opening the ice at the Tribute Communities Centre on Aug. 4, as well as some community centres a week later.
As for Pickering, City Hall will be open to the public on Monday, with cardio and weight rooms returning after the August long weekend.
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